Postcards From the Edge of GloryOver the last twenty years I’ve learned that art-making combined with writing is an efficient way for me to process the “memorable” moments of life – those moments that are so impactful that it takes some intentional time to integrate them into my soul. Frankly, I stumbled into this fast, fun, cheap form of therapy when I took a class on spiritual formation through Columbia Theological Seminary. One of the class requirements was to write a ten page spiritual autobiography. Creative type that I am, I asked if I could do mine in a combination of art, poetry and prose. The result, which chronicled the first fifty-five years of my life, was a seventy page book, a meditative experience that opened up my awareness of the continual presence of God in my life.

Entitled Postcards From the Edge of Glory, it recorded factual experiences, highlights and traumas, and potent memories – those felt or imaged moments that for some reason stand out from all our other memories. Written chronologically, it included my earliest memory at about a year old to the advent of a surprising new vocation as an artist in my mid-fifties. One of the profound lessons I learned writing this book was that God was present in each and every experience even if I was utterly without a clue. That reality has changed the way I look at troubled times. 

911 JournalOne of those especially potent troubled times for all of us was 9/11. We all remember where we were, who we were with, what we were watching when the twin towers collapsed in New York on live television. Within hours, unspeakable stories of horror, heartbreak, and sacrifice began to surface. Stories of heroism and heartfelt cell phone goodbyes began to fill the news; stories that needed to be recorded lest they become vague memories. In order to process the unfolding trauma of 9/11, I began an art journal that took a month to complete. Filled with vivid, saturated colors on ragged edged pages, beautiful images, and a horrible story, page by page the story shifted from terror to inspiration to hope.

God Box I’ve recently entered another season of upheaval and have again turned to art-making for solace, understanding and an occasional good laugh. Due to the generosity of the California Pizza Kitchen, who donated a number of small pizza boxes to the Lighthouse to make God boxes, I repurposed a box left behind by one of the woman who exited the program. It was a perfect container for the numerous art and writing pieces that chronicled the last twenty years. Unlike my spiritual autobiography, it wasn’t created chronologically. I began with what I knew and allowed one thing to lead to another. Prowling through my collage files, I discovered old pieces of “junk” art from prior workshops that invited being combined with various bits of wisdom as well as my backstory. Pages came to life in no particular order except that images of hope began to appear more often than those containing a sad story. My emotional turmoil began to subside as the layers of my story began to nest in the embellished environs of a God box. Yup! It was fast, fun and cheap. Only this time I had a clue of what God was up to.

If you were to create an art and writing piece of a significant season in your life, what would it be? If you’ve already created such an art piece, what did you learn about yourself, others, or how God was involved even if you were without a clue? What potent memory do you wonder about? If you were to create an art piece about that potent memory what might it look like?

Looking forward to your stories!

1 comment to Box

  • Last year I was introduced to a project called “Soul Collage” by a friend who presented me with a wonderful book on the technique. I wanted to try it, so four friends and I gathered together with all our “stuff” for a weekend retreat. Soul collage does have some structure and that is where we started, but we were soon captivated by the process of making our collage/cards and ventured well beyond the guidelines. One thing I learned in the process was there were so many important things I had forgotten – people, places, accomplishments, relationships, events – and the project reminded me to keep those strengths in the forefront, as well as having that good old “in retrospect” view of the less than great things. I keep my collage cards handy when making a tough decision or going through something. Good for you, Lynne, for taking care of yourself with your art and reflection.

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